by LAUREN CODLING
WHITE girls are not the only group targeted by Asian grooming gangs as victims are from
ethnic backgrounds too, a researcher who presented her findings to the Home Office on
Monday (22) has claimed.
Last Friday (19), 20 Asian men were sentenced after being found guilty of raping and abusing young girls in Huddersfield.
They plied victims with drugs and drinks before abusing them.
Dr Ella Cockbain is a lecturer in security and crime science at University College London (UCL).
Her findings showed that offenders were neither “sophisticated or organised,” but opportunists, and that successful prosecutions related to the crimes is possible, but it may be “challenging, complex and costly”.
Last week’s convictions follow a similar pattern of large-scale exploitation of victims, including by groups of Asian men.
Similar cases have emerged in several other British towns such as Rotherham, Newcastle, Rochdale and Telford.
Eastern Eye has previously reported on how vulnerable Asian women are also targeted by
grooming gangs. In many cases, they tend to be family members, campaigners told the paper.
Most girls who are targeted are considered vulnerable and are usually enticed by grooming
gangs with drugs, alcohol and cigarettes.
Many victims believed they were in “relationships” with their abusers.
In the Huddersfield case, the victims were considered vulnerable, with one girl described as
having the mental capacity of a seven-year-old. Many other victims were in care, Leeds crown court heard.
The men have been convicted of more than 120 offences against 15 girls. Their ringleader,
35-year-old Amere Singh Dhaliwal, was jailed for life with a minimum of 18 years.
The gang – who used nicknames including Beastie, Nurse and Dracula – initially groomed
the girls by showing them affection and giving them gifts.
The abuse, which took place in car parks, hotels, takeaways and snooker halls, is thought to have taken place between 2004 and 2011. The men were said to have used plastic bags as condoms and made the girls engage in sickening games of truth or dare. In one instance, a victim was sexually assaulted with a glass bottle.
During another “degrading” game, a 15-year-old was plied with alcohol and raped by a man as part of a ‘dare’ by Dhaliwal, while others watched. The court heard that Dhaliwal committed countless rapes, incited child prostitution and filmed abuse on his mobile phone.
In victim impact statements, one young female admitted she only escaped the abuse when
her family had to move following a house fire.
She said: “It was the best thing I ever did, and that’s bad saying that burning your house down is the best thing you ever did.”
Another victim, who was abused between the ages of 13 and 18, said the men would buy
her cigarettes and cannabis. She was in a relationship with one of them. However, she said she was soon passed around to her abusers’ friends.
“Some days you’re waking up and you don’t even know how you’ve ended up in certain places,” she said. “You can’t remember what happened to you. It was just a circle.”
She added her belief that victims were still being abused and urged them to speak out.
In key remarks made to the Home Office this week, Dr Cockbain noted that although victims might be considered “vulnerable”, it did not mean they were not credible as witnesses.
She added that immediate social context was “really important” as social relations, social
dynamics and group activity were key in facilitating, spreading and sustaining abuse.
On social media, Dr Cockbain commented that many girls were introduced to gangs through peer networks.
“I don’t think it’s helpful or fair to start blaming victims’ parents,” she said, in response to a
user who questioned if families were complicit in the crime.
Cockbain urged authorities to not reduce victims to passive objects.
“They often make tough decisions amid limited choices,” she stated.
Jurors heard that at least one girl who suffered abuse at the hands of the Huddersfield gang had attempted suicide, and another had had an abortion.
Judge Geoffrey Marson QC described the married father-of two Dhaliwal’s actions against
victims as “inhumane”.
While convicting the men, Marson said that it was “likely that many, if not all, of these girls
will never recover from the abuse they suffered”.
Dr Cockbain, whose primary research explores serious and organised crime and its prevention, added there will ongoing major challenges for criminal justice responses relating to child sexual exploitation cases.
“The cases are hugely complex, require shift in mindset [and you are] engaging heavily
groomed victims who might not identify as such,” she said.
Detective chief inspector Ian Mottershaw, from West Yorkshire Police, who led the Huddersfield investigation, thanked victims for coming forward and for their bravery.
“I cannot praise them enough for their courage and tenacity in helping us secure justice for
them against these defendants,” Mottershaw said.
“The investigation into this case has been extremely complex and the investigative team
have worked tirelessly for the past five years to ensure that no stone has been left unturned.
“We welcome the convictions and sentences which have been passed down throughout the
year to these depraved individuals, who subjected vulnerable young children to unthinkable sexual and physical abuse.”